Overwhelming UN vote says US blockade of Cuba needs to end
Washington voted against the resolution despite the recent renewal of diplomatic ties with Cuba and the push by President Barack Obama to lift the embargo first introduced a year before he was born.
The draft resolution urges all member states to “refrain from promulgating and applying laws and measures” that furthering the blockade, and those that have such laws to “repeal or invalidate them as soon as possible.” It specifically cites the 1996 Helms-Burton Act as one such law, which affects the sovereignty of other states and legitimate interests of their citizens, as well as the freedom of trade and navigation. Helms-Burton penalizes foreign companies for doing business with Cuba.
Of the 193 member states at the General Assembly, 191 voted in support of the resolution, titled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.”
Washington imposed the blockade in 1960, after Cuban revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro overthrew the regime of Fulgencio Batista, a US-backed dictator. It has been in place for over 55 years.
“The time has come to put an end to this unilateral embargo," said the Paraguayan representative, speaking on behalf of Mercosur, a free trade block of seven South American nations.
“The continuation of the embargo is unjustifiable, and counters Cuba’s effort to achieve sustainable development,” said the Iranian representative, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.
President Obama announced in December 2014 that he would be changing the US policy on Cuba, arguing that the blockade had not produced the desired effect. In May 2015, the US removed Cuba from the list of countries accused of sponsoring terrorism. The Cuban embassy in Washington reopened in July, and the US embassy in Havana followed suit in August.